Florence is one of Italy’s cultural hubs and it offers you loads of things to do and see. The city brings in tourists from all over the world which has led to higher prices in the areas frequented by tourists. But you can still explore and enjoy the city and its offerings on a budget. There are also plenty of free things to do in Florence to help you stick to your budget. From picturesque Italian piazzas to churches, gardens and markets, here are some of the best free things to do in Florence during your upcoming trip to the city.
Piazza del Duomo is the most prominent piazza in Florence. This is also where the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is located which can be accessed for free as well. The interior of the cathedral is adorned with beautiful frescos and the exterior architecture is stunning as well. You can also visit Giotto’s bell tower(for a small fee) and the Duomo museum within the complex of the piazza.
Piazza Santa Croce is always lively and full of people. You can take in the sights of the beautiful architecture that the buildings around it have to offer while you enjoy coffee from a local Italian bar. On the weekends, you may also find a farmers market at this square, with local products being sold at different stands. During Christmas, this is also the piazza that has a Christmas market for the season.
Piazza Della Signoria is the most famous piazza in Florence and is one of the best free things to do in Florence. It houses an open-air museum where you can admire the statues and sculptures for free. You can also find the Loggia Dei Lonza and the fountain of Neptune at this piazza.
Piazza Michelangelo is the best spot for you to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic views of the city of Florence and also catch the sunset. You will also find a replica of Michelangelo’s David around the piazza. Piazza Michelangelo is definitely one of the free things to do in Florence that you should not miss on your visit to the city.
This cathedral is one of Florence’s major churches and is mesmerizing both from the inside and out. UNESCO has declared the cathedral a world heritage site due to the intricate work. The architectural marvel of the cathedral is astounding. For a little fee, you can go up the bell tower and take in the amazing view of the city from the cupola.
The Basilica di Santa Croce is known for the famous tombs it houses. You can find the tombs of famous Florentines such as Michelangelo, Machiavelli, Galileo and you can also find the beautiful Dante memorial. Beautiful frescos adorn the interior of this stunning basilica. It should definitely be a stop during your tour of the city.
The Santo Spirito Church is an extremely important part of Florence’s renaissance history. It houses a crucifix made by Michelangelo when he was merely 17 years old. The architecture of the church is different from that of other middle age churches and we recommend visiting if you have time during your visit to the Florence.
The Orsanmichele Church has a treasure trove of artifacts for you to explore and learn from. The church used to be the main grain market of the city before being converted into a church. It houses sculptures from the most influential artists throughout the years. It can be interesting to see how the art evolved over the years through the collection of sculptures.
This church is located in a higher part of the city and gives you some great views. The church has a green and white marble-clad facade, a result of Tuscan Romanesque architecture. The interior of the church is covered in mosaics and is a spectacular sight to behold.
This Basilica is famous for the Ghirlandaio frescoes found inside. Ghirlandaio was one of the most prominent artists of Italy and his frescoes are a sight to behold. You can also take some amazing pictures of Ponte Vecchio from the basilica. Make sure to stop by this beautiful hidden gem while discovering the free things to do in Florence.
This church is named after good men and is dedicated to the patron saint of charity. Inside the church, you can find a fresco depicting the legend of the charity work that San Martino did. It is a beautifully constructed church that deserves a visit and is free to explore.
This church is one of the most beautifully decorated from the inside. It houses artworks and frescos by some of the masters of the renaissance such as Ghirlandaio, Giotto, and Botticelli. Some of the original artworks have been moved to museums but you can still find some amazing works inside this church.
This basilica is most famous for the Votive Cloister or the Cloister of the Vows. The cloister is decorated beautifully with the finest Mannerist Frescos. The interior of the basilica is decorated with baroque-style frescos that enhance its grandness.
The Bardini Garden is a lesser-known spot in Florence but boasts some of the best views in the city. The garden itself isn’t that crowded and has some amazing floral displays. You can take a peaceful stroll through the garden and reach the panoramic view of the Florentine cityscape from the Belvedere Terrace. Visit on the first Sunday of the month when the garden is open for free entry.
The rose garden is located just by the Piazzale Michelangelo. This little garden is the perfect place for you to take a break. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the city from this garden on one side and the sight of blooming roses on the other.
The Iris is the symbol of Florence and you can enjoy the flowers in full bloom during the month of May. The Iris garden is a hidden gem that you can visit for a more laid-back experience. You can also admire various floral competitions and exhibitions that are held in the garden.
This garden is lush and open and you can feel one with nature when you visit the Orticultura garden. The flowers and wide green meadows make for a great day out and maybe a picnic in the arms of mother nature.
Le Cascine is a historically monumental park that is huge in size. This used to be the hunting grounds for the Medici in the medieval era. You can immerse yourself in the ways of local Florentines and enjoy the open-air markets here.
The San Lorenzo market lets you get into the Florentine way of life and offers some of the local items up for sale that you won’t find anywhere else. It is one of the best places to try some of the local cold cuts and get a feel of the local life in Florence.
The Mercato Della Pulci is a flea market unlike any other in Florence. You can find rare antiques and items of all sorts. It’s a really fun experience if you visit this market. You can spend an afternoon strolling up and down the lanes of the market browning and shopping.
At the Mercato Nuovo, you’ll find shops of all kinds that will make you want to go back for more. This is one of the best free places to visit in Florence. You must visit the statue of the pig located in the market and give it a big rub for good luck and secure a chance for your return to Florence.
After a long day of roaming the streets of Florence, the best place to go for food is the Mercato Centrale. The bottom part stays open till 2 PM and then the upper part of the market is opened up and you can head up for a delicious meal or to buy some fresh produce to take home.
This market is organized on the third Sunday of every month in Piazza Santo Spirito and gives you the opportunity to experience the authentic lifestyle of Florence. You can buy local produce that are organically grown and enjoy a day making a tasty meal.
Free Sundays (Florence State Museums)
The state museums in Florence are open on the first Sunday of every month for free to all visitors from the month of October to March. Even though these months are considered to be the low season, the lines can be long and hectic so be sure to be there early to get in and out without long lines.
The Rodolfo Siviero Museum offers a wide range of ancient Roman artworks ranging from paintings to statues and baroque. This used to be the home of a keen art collector and the museum’s namesake Rodolfo Siviero.
Located within the basilica of Sant’Apollonia is the Last Supper by Andrea del Castagno. This painting is very well renowned and to get a view of this is unmissable. It depicts Jesus and his followers during the last supper.
The very symmetrical Strozzi Palace stands out in the city center. It’s a huge rectangular fortress that once used to be a private palace but is now a space for exhibitions. You can visit the contemporary art exhibitions held there for free and also admire the beautiful interior rock arcade.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the fast-paced city life, the Cloister of Scalzo stands out as a place to find peace and calm. The interior of the chiostro is decorated with frescoes that depict the life of St. John Baptist and are a raw representation of emotions.
Ponte Vecchio is one of the oldest and most famous bridges still in use around Europe. Built over the Arno river, Ponte Vecchio offers some spectacular views of the city. There are houses and stalls built on the bridge which give this Bridget a unique look. You can walk over the bridge and shop or look around the buildings on it.
This group of villas just outside the city limits of Florence were named as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2013. The villas are beautiful and you can visit them for free during your visit to Florence. This place is less crowded allowing you to enjoy the beauty of these villas peacefully.
The universities around Florence have a charm of their own. They are beautifully constructed and look like ancient monuments. You can walk around the campus and take in the beauty of the architecture accompanied by the beautiful pathways and lush lawns. You can visit the University of Florence and the Florence University of Arts and explore the campuses for free.
The terrace at the Oblate Library offers a great place for you to sit back and enjoy the views as you enjoy a typical Italian aperitivo. The library is located right behind the Duomo and is easy to access.
The Santa Maria Novella houses the Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella in a chapel right next to the main basilica. It’s the oldest apothecary in the world that is still functional. The interior of the buildings is covered with frescos. You can find beauty products in the pharmacy which are handmade using old-school techniques.
Apart from all of these attractions, walking tours around the city are an experience in themselves. You can explore the less-touristy sights of Florence and admire some amazing street art, architecture and enjoy street performers and buskers as they fill the streets with artistry.
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